1. Who gets the better of the center matchup: Andre Drummond or Andrew Bynum?
Chris Manning, Right Down Euclid EIC: The scariest part of this matchup is that Andre Drummond is roughly the same size as Andrew Bynum AND has functional knees that allow him to be explosive and do athletic things like run up the court and jump for rebounds. Thus, expect Drummond to be the first center all season who can take Bynum out of the game without having to have a teammate help him with a double-team. Bynum may get a few easy buckets since he has some good post moves, but all in all, Dre is going to have his way with Bynum.
Trevor Magnotti, RDE Staff Writer: Drummond seems like the clear victor here. Drummond’s big advantage over many other centers against Bynum is his size, which matches well with Bynum’s. Drummond is a monster rebounder and defensive player, and he is simply much more active than Bynum by virtue of the fact that he’s 20 and hasn’t had 39 knee surgeries. Drummond should roast Bynum on the inside.
Marlowe Alter, RDE Staff Writer: Drummond was recently ranked third in ESPN’s Top 25 Under-25 (behind only Anthony Davis and Paul George) thanks to his size, athleticism and rebounding abilities. The 20-year old is one of the few players in the league who can physically matchup against Bynum. He’s already one of the best rebounders in the NBA and creates havoc defensively with his hands and quickness. Dwight Howard dominated Drummond on Saturday but I expect the kid to bounce back against the slow, inconsistent Bynum.
2. Who wins the point guard battle between Kyrie and Brandon Jennings, who are both very inefficient scorers and poor defensive players?
CM: This is Irving’s matchup to win and it really shouldn’t be close at all. Jennings, unlike Irving, has never once shown himself capable of being a mildly efficient scorer. Irving – as evidenced by his performance against the Bucks – is an efficient player at his best. He’s a gunner under control, while Jennings is a gunner with off switch that turns him into a passer. Both probably have decent nights – since both are awful on defense – but Irving is another league as a player, plain & simple.
TM: I think we’re going to see Kyrie have a better performance if he’s healthy. Jennings has been pretty solid on offense as of late, posting 28 points and 14 assists in their win over the Celtics and 26 points in a loss to the Bobcats this past week. However, he’s still as inefficient as ever, shooting 39 percent from the field this season, and he can’t defend anything. Kyrie should be able to get back on track against Jennings, especially in the pick-and-roll game, which Jennings is pretty terrible at defending.
MA: Irving is the better player but he’s struggled this season for various reasons. However, he’s scored 25 or more in three of the past five games and Jennings certainly won’t slow him down. Offensively, Jennings is a streaky shooter but he isn’t bashful about hoisting from the perimeter. If he can create open looks for himself, he is dangerous from long-range. This could be a fun one-on-one battle for those who love offense (everyone).
3. The Pistons deploy the league’s largest starting frontcourt. Should Mike Brown match Detroit’s size by shifting his starting lineup?
CM: Without doing anything too drastic, Mike Brown can deal with the size of Detroit, improve the Cavaliers offense and make this game more enjoyable to watch. That move is starting Earl Clark at small forward. Clark will be able to matchup with Smith at three (and defend him adequately) and that leaves the Cavaliers matched up well at other spots. Going to a Thompson/Varejao/Bynum frontcourt would destroy the Cavaliers spacing more than it already has been and thus making the Cavaliers reliant on Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters/Jarrett Jack/C.J. Miles/Matthew Dellavedova to create in the backcourt. The Cavaliers trying to match size with the Pistons doesn’t end well for the Wine & Gold, making Clark the obvious solution.
TM: Absolutely. The cavs have just as much size as the Pistons, and should be using it. Alonzo Gee guarding Josh Smith is an awful idea, and the cavs will have much more success with Earl Clark in a larger role. Gee can play against Kyle Singler or Gigi Datome at the 3, but when Smoove is in, Gee is a terrible idea. Thompson or Varejao are good choices against the Monroe/Drummond combo with Bynum. Small forward is the only issue, and Clark limits that with his length.
MA: I certainly would shutter throwing out the usual Gee-Thompson-Bynum trio against these guys. If Mike Brown sticks with the same starting lineup, Gee will be matched up against ultra athletic first-year Piston Josh Smith. I would seriously consider slotting Earl Clark into Gee’s spot or possibly assign Tristan Thompson to Smith and insert Anderson Varejao at power forward. It might look ugly on the offensive end but without a move, Brown risks having the 6-foot-9 Smith, 6-11 Drummond and 6-11 Greg Monroe destroy the Cavaliers on the boards and pound them inside in the early going. I think Cleveland has to add length to its lineup to compete against the Pistons mammoth trio.